--- S C O T T W O L V E N
Early that morning at the wood lot, I was running the hydraulic splitter, leaning on the control lever as the flat steel plate relentlessly forced logs up against the stationary four-way wedge blade, splitting the wood into pieces. Wayne picked the pieces off the ground and threw the stove-ready wood into the dump truck. Robert stood opposite me, feeding the splitter by wrestling the big cut logs off the pile and onto the splitter tray, fitting them between the steel base plate and the blade.
I had worked for Robert about three months. I don't remember what lie I used as a name. I went through a Biblical phase at one point, so it may well have been John or Luke.
The piece of wood in the splitter tray groaned. I turned up the gas throttle and forced the control lever all the way down. The log groaned, and screamed, and shot sideways off the splitter, a dark blur that slammed into Robert's face. He landed face up, with some sawdust in his beard. I tried to get Wayne's attention.
"Hey, Wayne!" I shut the splitter off so he could hear me. "Hey, Wayne."
"What the hell happened?"
"That piece jumped up and bit Robert."
"Jesus. I didn't see it."
"I know. What should we do?"
"Take his wallet."
"Ha, ha, ha, ha, holy shit Wayne, that's funny."
"Ha, ha, ha."
"Seriously, though. Is that all blood over there?"
Wayne nodded. "That's a lot of blood."
"Remember when I first got here and old Fred cut himself?"
"Sure. Blood all over the place. All over the chain saw. That doctor said 'You might die,' and old Fred said 'Not today, mister.' Eighty-six stitches."
"Did he really say 'Not today, mister'?"
"No. He said something like 'Wayne, I'm fucked.' Then he was knocked out."
"What should we do here, those blood bubbles around his nose look bad."
"If he doesn't get up in a few minutes, we'll load him into the back of the truck and take him to the hospital. And you've got to watch that. Always watch the wood. See, some of these logs aren't cut flat, so they don't sit flush on the plate. Then, as the hydraulic pressure builds, it can make the wood shoot off sideways or backwards. If you see that happening, back off that lever."
"How come the wood doesn't fly forward?"
"Physics, I guess. The law of science. It makes logical sense when you think about it."
"Okay. You can understand it for both of us."
"Well, it's pretty simple. For example, both of his eyes will be black tomorrow."
"How do you figure?"
"See that cut on the bridge of his nose? Anytime something slams into the bridge of your nose, it makes your eyes go black."
"I'm serious. Do you remember my friend Sandy?"
"Sandy drove-a-red-pickup-truck-had-a-beard Sandy?"
"No, not him. Jesus, you're dense. Sandy, that woman I lived with for a while in that trailer."
"Did she drive the school bus?"
"Right, right. So she had four dogs, three German shepherds and a black lab. And two of the shepherds started chasing that lab around in front of the trailer, in crazy fast circles, and she bent down to pet the other shepherd and blam! That stupid black lab ran right into her, cracked Sandy right on the nose."
"Well, this is what I'm telling you. Both her eyes blacked up and they thought I beat her."
"Who thought you beat her?"
"Everybody. Neighbors, her family, the court. All on account of that black lab."
"Was her nose okay?"
"Shit no, it was broke in three places and plus she broke her eye orbit."
"That bone around your eye. That's called an orbit."
"Oh. Had you ever punched her before?"
"What the hell difference does that make? I just told you the dog ran into her. Have you ever felt how hard the top of a lab's head is?"
"Well it makes perfect sense if you think about it."
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